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ANO to negotiate only with ČSSD about minority government

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Prague, March 15 (CTK) – The ANO movement will negotiate about government cooperation exclusively with the Social Democrats (CSSD) in the next few week in order to form a minority coalition cabinet that would be backed by the Communists (KSCM), Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told journalists on Thursday.

He said the talks with the CSSD would last until April 10.

Babis said the CSSD negotiators would be able to present a draft agreement on government cooperation to the CSSD congress on April 7.

CSSD representatives did not meet journalists after the meeting with ANO.

CSSD chairman Jan Hamacek tweeted that his party is ready to talk about the form of the coalition agreement. “The ANO movement clearly said what government setup it prefers. Our experts are prepared to intensively negotiate about the form of a possible coalition agreement,” he said.

If the CSSD congress approved the agreement, a party’s internal referendum on it would be held. Only if the rank and file agreed, the Social Democrats would be able to join the government, Hamacek said.

Babis said the negotiators from ANO and the CSSD on Thursday discussed the programme of their possible government and the ministries that the CSSD could head, but it did not give any further details.

He ruled out the alternative that he would give up the post of prime minister, which is what some CSSD politicians demanded because of Babis’s prosecution over a suspected subsidy fraud.

Experts from the two parties will keep negotiating about particular points in the government’s programme and ANO and CSSD leading politicians are to meet at least once a week.

The two parties said they have different views on several topics.

“We differ in our opinions on taxes. The Social Democrats propose progressive taxation, special taxes on big corporations and other things on which we have a different stance, ANO deputy chairman Richard Brabec said.

ANO has 78 MPs and the CSSD 15 MPs in the lower house of parliament, which means they are eight votes short of a majority. However, if the 15 Communist MPs left the room during the confidence vote taken in the ANO-CSSD government by the lower house, the government would win the vote.

ANO leaders also had meetings with representatives of the KSCM, the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) anf the ODS on Thursday.

Babis said ANO ended its talks with the KSCM and the anti-EU SPD.

ANO and the Communists did not find agreement on some foreign and security affairs and in the sphere of finances. KSCM representatives said their party would not take part in the government but it may tolerate it. They said the dispute over the dismissal of KSCM MP Zdenek Ondracek from a senior lower house post has been settled.

ANO and the SPD disagree on the general referendum bill as the SPD would like a referendum to be taken on the country’s departure from the EU, which ANO rejected. SPD leader Tomio Okamura nevertheless said ANO and the SPD could form a cabinet of experts. But Okamura said the SPD would not back a coalition government of ANO and the CSSD because it has reservations about the CSSD.

The right-wing ODS insisted on its rejection of any government cooperation with ANO. ODS leader Petr Fiala said the party perceives itself as a programme and political alternative to ANO.

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